I spent this past week in bed recovering from root canal from hell (just so you know, gritting your teeth is VERY bad for you). Blog post to follow at some point, using said root canal as metaphor. In the meantime, a blog rewind — one of my favorites. Here’s to your good dental health and a relaxed lower jaw!
Shooting My Way Out of My Comfort Zone
The last time I shot a gun was more than 40 years ago during riflery courses at Camp Merrie-Woode for girls. Suffice it to say, I’m more of an artist than a gun person. But this past weekend I shot a .22 and a Glock. Frankly, I enjoyed the experience; shooting a gun pushed me way out of my comfort zone, which is a good place to be.
The Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang, who creates magical gunpowder drawings, feels the same way about the importance of going beyond his comfort zone. Here’s what he said in a recent Wall Street Journal interview:
The primary reason I use gunpowder is that I’m very rhetorical, very logical and very cautious and sometimes very timid. As a person, it’s probably fine for me to be that way. As an artist, I need to liberate myself and self-destruct this personality.
Chicks with Guns
I shot the .22 and the Glock with seven of my closest college friends, all of us members of the same sorority. Now, you may think sororities are silly, irrelevant, or elitist organizations. When some of my artists friends discovered I was in a sorority, they were shocked and announced, only half kidding, that they had to rethink our friendship. Say what you will — all I know is, we graduated 30 years ago and we are still the closest of friends.
As luck would have it, the stars and schedules aligned, and we found ourselves happily together on a Texas ranch. Entertainment included an afternoon on a firing range, under the very watchful and experienced eye of the local sheriff and his son.
I began with the .22 and was a disaster from the start. I kept trying to line the target up with the gun sight, using my dominant right eye, but continually overshot not only the silhouette but also the gigantic plywood board it was mounted on. This was an impressive feat, but not in a good way.
I moved onto the Glock. Again, trying to line the target up with the gun sight, I missed my silhouette altogether, and even worse, hit the neighboring one. In the meantime, one friend looked like a modern day Angie Dickinson; another quickly earned the name Dead Eye (a native Texan now living in California, her training returned in a flash). The sheriff suggested I try to line the gun sight up with my left eye. Still no luck. An expert marksman and gifted teacher, he persevered and said, “Point the gun to the ground. Focus your eyes on the target. Lift the gun. Don’t look through the sights. Just focus on the target and shoot.”
Well, it wasn’t actually a bull’s eye but it was a heck of a lot closer than before. The sheriff called me an instinct shooter — a person who fires their gun by relying on the innate quality of hand-eye coordination. Basically, you point your weapon at the target just like you’d point your finger. As the sheriff said, “Those sights were just getting in your way.”
Talk about metaphors. Gun sights are supposed to help shooters aim accurately. The guides were working for most everybody else but not for me. The more I tried to conform to that method of shooting, the more I missed my target. The moment I did what was right for me — followed my instincts — I found my aim.
The Ties that Bind
Like my fellow artist Cai Guo-Qiang, I need to spend time out of my comfort zone — for instance, shooting a Glock on a firing range — and be careful of guides that are meant to be helpful but actually limit my efforts. This can be pretty scary, but as long as I follow my instincts and focus on my target, I can’t miss.
Plus, I’m definitely not alone out here. I’ve got my sisters with me. When my show I Will Be Good (now named How to Draw a Nekkid Man) opened at FringeNYC last year, two of them were in the audience with their college-aged children in tow. Three of them hosted a performance in their homes while the show was in development. Many of them donated to the production efforts or sent friends to see the show. All of them cheered me on.
It’s what we do. When one of us achieves, the celebration begins. When one of us is in trouble, the wagons circle. We’ve got each others backs. And be careful. Now we know how to shoot guns.
If you have a minute, please help me build my online audience!
- Please share this blog with your friends — just use the icons below!
- Leave a comment. Feedback is great.
- Want to receive these blogs in your email inbox? Please register at the top right of this page. While you’re there, you can like my artist’s Facebook page and follow me on Twitter!
- Thanks for your support!